13 Apr 2012

Librarian competencies in evidence-based practice

When I (somewhat accidentally!) found myself working as a health science librarian, I had never really considered the role in great detail before. From my experience to date, I have found my own role blends the spheres of the academic liaison librarian (for example, providing research support for students, information literacy instruction and collection development & subject expertise) with that of an information or research officer (dealing with complex and lengthy reference queries, synthesising research, delivering current awareness services and providing professional information support for clinical queries and research projects).

From sharing experiences with colleagues however, I have learned that the role can vary greatly from that of a pure clinical informationist to a more traditional library-based function, and in most instances falls somewhere in between both extremes. However, I think most health science librarians would agree that the unique nature of the role demands certain core competencies, and Dean Giustini (who teaches the Health information sources and services module in the University of British Columbia) offers an interesting list of the top ten competencies for EBP, which I feel successfully encapsulates many of the essential aspects:

  1. Articulate the five (5) steps of evidence-based practice
  2. Be able to frame good clinical questions
  3. Understand the hierarchies of evidence from case studies to gold standard RCTs & systematic reviews
  4. Search by clinical domain ie. diagnosis, etiology, prognosis, qualitative, therapy
  5. Describe expert role(s) assumed by health librarians in EBP
  6. Teaching; knowledge of learning styles, sources, strategies and filters
  7. Be familiar with basic research, methodologies, statistics and assessment
  8. Engage in critical appraisal and reflective practice
  9. Understand systematic reviews and expert searching
  10. Assume expert searching roles in database searching; in searching pre-appraised tools (Cochrane and related tools); grey literature (Google, Scirus and open search tools).

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